SAN DIEGO — Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano, of the Diocese of San Diego, delivered the following homily during a bilingual Holy Hour for Peace in Ukraine, held at Our Lady of Angels Church on the evening of March 3, and live-streamed to the community.
“We unite with many of our brothers and sisters from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Catholic Church here in San Diego, who are also gathered in prayer at this very moment. We continue to pray in solidarity for all the people of Ukraine who are suffering so much from this senseless, irrational war.
“Our Bishops, Robert McElroy and John Dolan, continue to offer their moral and spiritual support, along with so many people of good will around the world, imploring the end of this immoral conflict. They send their blessing this evening to us and to all the people of Ukraine.
“Urged by Pope Francis, we offered yesterday a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Ukraine. As we journey through this season of Lent, we will continue to offer prayers and sacrifices until there is peace in Ukraine. Pope Francis said few days ago, “Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting.”
“This unjust war, which began a week ago, is truly a disgrace. We know that in war no one wins, everyone loses.
“This sinful invasion of a democratic country has brought to my memory several biblical stories about sin and evil, like Cain killing his brother Abel with furious anger. God said to Cain, ‘Why are you so resentful? Sin is a demon lurking at the door.’
“This war reminds me of Pharaoh who hardened his heart becoming more stubborn day after day. I have been thinking about Goliath’s arrogance, or Nebuchadnezzar’s fury throwing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the blazing furnace, or the abuse of power of Jezebel who had Naboth killed, so that, Ahab could take possession of his vineyard.
“The killing of so many innocent people makes me think about Antiochus who killed in front of a mother her seven sons, or Herod killing children because he was afraid the newborn King could take away his kingdom.
“At the same time, this pointless war has brought to my memory the Lord who led the Hebrew people through the Red Sea. The Lord who made the walls of Jericho fall. The Lord who gave Samson such strength to defeat the enemy. The Lord who, through David, defeated Goliath. The Lord who fought many battles for his people without the intervention of the armies.
“As Pope Francis said this week, ‘God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence.’ God is on the side of those Ukrainian people who have given such an amazing testimony of their faith. I have seen in the last week the faith of those praying in churches, streets or subways. I have seen the pictures of priests doing the Divine Liturgy in shelters, and soldiers praying before an icon of Mother Mary. I have heard the stories from seminarians, priests, religious sisters, bishops, and laity who are helping and supporting the people.
“We know that many innocent civilians, including women and children have been killed. Many families have been separated, and many people have been displaced. Still, we see so many clinging to their faith in God.
“As we just heard in the words of St. Paul, ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the Body the dying of Jesus.’ In the name of Jesus, let us do everything we can to overcome this evil with good (Roman 12: 21).
“Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
“Lord Jesus, in you holy name, we beg you, stop this war, and bring peace. Deliver your faithful people from evil.
“Mother Mary, Queen of Peace, cover with you holy mantle Ukraine, and anyone who implores your help.”
Catholic Relief Services is asking for donations to help the Ukrainians fleeing the war. Donate here.